The cause of gynecomastia is believed to result from an imbalance between the main sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. In the overwhelming majority of patients seen for gynecomastia, there is no associated medical condition that causes it. The top three causes of gynecomastia are as follows:
- The “idiopathic variety is the development of breast fullness at puberty that didn’t go away. This is by far the most common presentation.
- The second group occurs in middle age to older men taking testosterone supplements for low testosterone levels. This is the fasted growing group as this therapy is becoming more accepted medically.
- The third group is caused by the use of pro hormones. These are younger men, typically weight lifters and athletes, who use over the counter supplements to boost testosterone levels because it builds muscle and stamina.
Medical conditions can cause gynecomastia (such as liver disease and some cancers). Side effects of medications can also cause breast enlargement (for instance, there is a 1% chance of developing gynecomastia from the common hair loss medication Propecia). If there is ever any doubt, visit with an Endocrinologist (medical doctor who is expert at hormones and hormone related diseases and conditions).
There is no “test” to determine if you have gynecomastia. Hormone levels are typically normal in men who suffer from gynecomastia. Genetics may play a small role in gynecomastia—it tends to run in some families. If you have developed large breasts because of weight gain this is called pseudogynecomastia. The cure for this condition is weight loss.